Thanksgiving Dinner Planning Timeline

Updated: Dec 11, 2019


The holidays can be stressful & overwhelming as a host. I feel like this one of those things you're like "Sure! I'd love to host!!" then like the day or two before you're like "What the hell did I agree to?!?"


This is my playbook for the holidays when I host to keep my sanity and still enjoy myself.  There is nothing worse than trying to entertain and ensure everyone has a nice time while you're stressed out and trying to do a million things at once.


Reading through this, you'll find recipe links on the blog for my gravy, turkey brine and crockpot stuffing- they have been my go-to recipes for years and always a hit! I hope you'll use these tips and prep work to ensure a stress free Thanksgiving. 1 week away: -Plan your menu -Order any flowers if you need centerpieces delivered -Decide fall table decor if you choose. -Buy all wine, beer, soda, alcohol and any mixers needed. 

-Plan activities for kids (coloring books, outdoor & indoor activity, etc)  -Check your seating arrangements and make sure you haven't forgotten anyone.  -Finalize your shopping plan/list. This may make you wonder how much to buy to serve everyone. Here are a few general guidelines:

Turkey: 1.5lb per person, .5lb per kid (sounds like a lot but this accounts for the whole turkey weight-bones and all, not how much each person is actually eating.   For example, 4 adults and 1 kid would be a 6.5lb turkey needed.

Stuffing: 3/4C cooked per person

Potatoes/Starches: 1 potato per person or 3/4C per person

Gravy: 1/3C per person

Veggies: 3-4oz per person cooked weight

Pie: 1/6 of a pie (pies serve 6-8 usually)

Rolls: 2 per person


Saturday or Sunday: -Shop for non-perishables -Prep anything that can be frozen -Clean the house for guests (this allows for easy touch ups later in the week) -Move any furniture needed for seating -Prep your linens




Tuesday:  -Buy any fresh flowers from the grocery store/florist to make your own centerpieces -Chop all veggies and store in baggies to have them ready to go -Make your cranberry sauce- it tastes better after marinating a few days -Buy bags of ice if needed for drinks.


Wednesday: -Spot Clean/ touch up -Put out fresh towels in your guest bathrooms and in the kitchen -Refill soap dispensers, set out candles to light and stock bathrooms with extra toilet paper  -Set the table -Chill the white wines -Make turkey brine


Thursday:  Morning: -Prep your potatoes, peel and put them in a pot with enough water to cover them and add a little salt.  They can set at room temp until ready to cook.  

-Make crockpot stuffing recipe

-Bake your rolls/bread and any other desserts

4 hours before dinner:  

-Check the tag on your turkey for correct cooking time.  For a 15lb turkey you'll start it around 4 hours before eating. NOTE: A brinded turkey usually bakes about 30 min faster.

-Make your side dishes and potatoes.  You can put these in the oven if you have a double oven or crockpots to keep warm while finishing up the turkey. (Seriously- borrow as many crockpots as you need!  They are a huge lifesaver- or you can buy the aluminum party catering sternos and trays like these from Party City  it's 24 pieces for $36. You can also buy them as needed too if you don't need that many. Your local Dollar Tree may carry them as well.  Not having to find a spot in the oven for everything is a huge stress reliever :)  (Plus with the foil pans; no clean up!! :)

When the turkey is done (I try to time it to be done about 30min before we are planning to eat) You can make the gravy.  I always make more than needed so I usually double the amount of water and add extra flour in. You can find my gravy recipe HERE

I hope this little timeline is helpful to ensure you have a wonderful and enjoyable Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends...and wine :) 


I'd love to see your holiday meals! If you share them on social media tag me and hashtag #FitHomeAndHealth. I'd love to share them!